Autonomous driving pioneer AutoX has become the latest company to be granted a Driverless Permit by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, a move that will allow the company to move forward on testing its autonomous driving technology on public roads in parts of San Jose, California.
Founded in 2016 by Dr. Jianxiong Xiao, a self-driving technologist from MIT and Princeton University, AutoX sees its mission as one of “democratizing autonomy” to provide universal access to transportation of people and goods.
The company is now able to move forward with the next phase of its development, after the California DMV announced last Friday that it had issued a permit to AutoX “authorizing the company to test driverless vehicles on surface streets within a designated part of San Jose.”
This next phase of autonomous driving testing is an important step for the technology in general, as AutoX is only the third company to receive a Driverless Permit in the State of California.
AutoX has had state authority to test autonomous vehicles with safety drivers since 2017, but the new permit not only allows there to be no safety driver present but also allows for testing with passengers.
From its two Californian research and development centres in San Jose and San Diego, AutoX has carried out autonomous vehicle road tests and pilot projects in 13 cities around the world.
AutoX also launched its xTaxi pilot programs to the public in Silicon Valley – after it was awarded its second Autonomous Vehicle Pilot Permit from California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in June of 2019 – as well as in Shanghai, and Shenzhen, two of China’s largest mega-cities.
According to the company, “The extremely diverse data and experience gleaned from these experiences, especially in challenging urban centers in China, has given the company valuable advantages in perfecting its technology faster in global expansion.”
AutoX already has plans on how it will begin this next phase of testing, announcing that it will begin by conducting tests on surface roads in San Jose with a speed limit of up to 45/mph (72kph) in the area around the headquarters of PayPal.
This falls in line with the restrictions placed on the permit by the Californian DMV which requires that the vehicle operate in “fair weather conditions and light precipitation on streets with a speed limit of no more than 45 mph.”
There are a number of companies that have received testing from the Californian DMV for testing with a safety driver, with 62 permits handed out, but only three companies now have permission to conduct driverless testing. In addition to AutoX is Californian robotics company Nuro, Inc., and autonomous driving technology company Waymo LLC.